As the end of the year roles around, many of our business brethren start to look back on the year, analyse their data and set goals for the year ahead. But is this really necessary?
Sometimes goal setting can feel like one of those tasks that you should do. Something that makes you feel busy and productive but at the end of the day doesn’t seem to, ironically, help you make any progress.
The Business Owners’ Dilemma
If you are a business then I really recommend checking out our post on how goal setting can be helpful to you (and how to set goals effectively) but there is another reason why goal setting is important. That is your happiness.
And as you know, I am a firm believer that happy bosses get more done and create better businesses. Something Forbes, Entrepreneur.com and TED speaker Alexander Kjerulf all have in common.
I am also a firm believer that, especially as a business owner, the activities that you do ‘outside of work’ can have a huge impact on your business. We don’t need to be told that poor nutritional decisions and a lack of exercise can impact our health. We might even acknowledge the impact it has on our work (i.e feeling sleeping, unproductive and distracted).
However, too often, we still refuse to give our ‘out of work lives’ the same weighting and importance as our work tasks. For example, going to the gym pales in comparison to setting up social media for the week. We would quite happily give up a mid morning break, in favor of checking in on our emails.
It’s understandable, of course. Going to the gym might not be something that fills you with joy, so it feels good to justify your absence by ‘having to work’.
Running your own business comes with a certain financial pressure and doing something like ‘taking a break’ can fill us with guilt and a sense of not achieving anything.
In the main, it’s because we are graving instant gratification. Checking your emails feels more productive in that moment, than taking a well deserved coffee break. Going to the gym for an hour make you conscious of how much work you are not getting done right now.
Those long term benefits of keeping active, eating well and getting a good amount of rest don’t appear to us instantly and therefore it’s hard to shake the fact we are being ‘unproductive’ or lazy in that moment.
Productivity and You
Many of our business goals this year will revolved around productivity. It’s a pretty popular topic. Indeed, our post on productivity apps is one of our most read and shared.
There is a myriad of articles online, sharing tips, apps and techniques all dedicated to making your work day more effective. We dedicate our time to testing the Podmoro technique, experimenting with batching and looking up the best way to automate our business.
Of course, those are all great things to do. However, we will spend our time and money looking for new ways and quick fixes, all the while ignoring some of the biggest culprits of procrastination and distraction.
There has been much research into the connection between diet and productivity, as well as exercise and happiness. However, you don’t need to read a study to know that you work better when you feel well and awake.
When it comes to issues like diet and exercise, we tend to segment this into the ‘non-work’ part of our brains. Working hours are for work and the hours outside that can be used to tackle other issues.
The snag with this, especially for the busy business owner, is that the hours outside of work are often short. Not only that, but having poured your heart and soul into your business all day, you are quite often exhausted.
Not the frame of mind you need to be in to tackle physical fitness.
And that’s not even taking into account your other non-work commitments, such as family and friends and housework.
It all turns into a vicious cycle. You are tired and lethargic at work, resulting in tasks taking longer to perform, which extends your working day and stresses you out. By the time you finish work for the day, you are even more tired, probably a little irritable and really just want to eat comfort food and watch Netflix.
And then it all starts again the next day.
So how do we break this cycle?
I Am Going To Break The Wheel
Your health, both mental and physical, is a crucial part of your business.
We might, on an intellectual level, understand that not eating well or not having enough sleep affects how we run on our business. But let’s get specific for a moment.
A British medical journal pointed out recently that going 17 hours without sleep, has the same affect on your actions as if you have a blood-alcohol level of 0.05.
That’s the same as a ten stone woman drinking two glasses of wine an hour.
We wouldn’t think drinking two glasses of wine at work is acceptable, so why should we think working without a proper amount of sleep is?
You been awake, productive and able to concentrate is just as important as social media, email lists and blog post writing.Click To Tweet
And if we acknowledge the value of setting ‘traditional’ business goals for the above, then surely we should be setting goals for personal lives as well. Goals that we plan and execute with the same dedication as our business goals.
We’ve written an in-depth blog post on how to set effective goals here. However, to give you a summary the most important point are as follows.
Whilst you might understand why it is that you are setting a goal, it’s important to write down your intention. Just as writing down ‘gain 100 new followers’ is meaningless without writing down ‘why’ you want to gain new followers, this is the same with personal goals.
Trying to achieve a ‘general’ goal can seem very straight forward when writing it down but can be a little more difficult in practice. For example, if your goal is to get ‘more’ sleep, when have you achieved this goal?
If you managed to get half an hour more sleep this week, did you meet your goal? If you got more sleep Tuesday night but less sleep Wednesday, is that good?
Make sure you can set specific goals which you can measure, in order to make it easier to ascertain whether you are making progress.
It is more than possible to very effectively set a goal and achieve it, without actually achieving the outcome that you are aiming at. For example, you might set a goal of restricting your calorie intake to 1200 calories a day. You might well succeed in doing so but without achieving your goal of loosing two pounds a week.
It’s important to check-in regularly to see that you are in fact making progress. Just in the same way you would check to make sure a marketing campaign is converting well, you might need to make adjustments and modifications along the way.
This is oft repeated when it comes to goal setting advice. Don’t set an unrealistic goal or an unrealistic time period.
If you want to go from sedentary being to marathon runner, it isn’t going to happen over night. Having said that, it certainly isn’t an excuse to only set yourself small goals.
Setting big and exciting goals is definitely doable, but just make sure to pave the way with mini-goals. To go back to our marathon runner, you might start off by going for a run twice a week. Or running for a minute, taking a thirty second break and starting again for another minute.
Dream big but plan small.
Economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity. Unhappy workers, however, were found to be 10% less productive.Click To Tweet
So next time you feel guilty for taking a break, popping out to the gym, or doing something that makes you smile in working hours, remember, it’s important work too.